Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Present

Every December, we make a trip to the mountains to visit Little A's favourite city of Pines. We drive up, go straight to the horseback riding area, put him on the back of one, check in to the club next door, then pick him up for dinner.

Evenings mean boots and a rain jacket, and a short walk to the Christmas Village, which features half-hourly generous sprinklings of bubbly suds that do actually resemble snow. There are also song and dance numbers or a Nativity play on the stage, and Little A happily watches these and applauds enthusiastically.

Finally, there is the farm portion of the club, where this year, for the first time, we were able to harvest some strawberries! Uninterested at first, Little A soon got into the task, leaving myself and the Au Pair to do the actual picking, while he examined and took a bite of each strawberry we put in the basket.

This trip seemed to go very quickly, but Big A has made the bookings for 2017, and in a few months, we will be back again. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Meeting the Orchestra

For many years now, perhaps from the time he was in the womb, Little A has had a great love for classical music.

Most recently, he has learnt the sections of the orchestra and all the instruments that comprise it, and has been watching videos of concerts.

Despite all this, he does not feel ready to sit in a proper, dark theatre, and remain in his seat quietly throughout the duration of a show.

Luckily, these days culture can be everywhere. If we lived in a city where buskers abounded (my boy would love Covent Garden and could probably sit there all afternoon) no doubt all of his pocket money would go into their instrument cases. Instead, we search for open rehearsals and sit through sound checks at shopping centers.

Just before Christmas, one of the malls where we have a shop held a series of shows for their 25th anniversary. These musical interludes were open to the public, free of charge.

Little A was thrilled to see the (albeit incomplete) orchestra onstage, and alternately sat and jumped for joy through nearly two hours of music. While the playlist was disappointing, with not a single piece of classical music apart from the opening of Pachelbel's Canon in D which quickly segued into some horrible pop number, he had a grand time.

The holidays will soon be upon us, and he will have three weeks off school, so we will traipse through the city during that time (when I am not drowning in work, that is) in search of more live music. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

First Holy Communion

In a practicing Catholic's life, there are few things more important than receiving the Sacraments. While we have not been regular churchgoers of late, Little A and I say prayers every night, and he likes visiting the chapels at the shopping malls for a bit of quiet.

Despite his challenges, I always hoped my son would be raised in the faith that both my family and Big A's practiced all our lives, so when a few conversations with the school administrator led to the formation of an after-school Catechism class, I was the first parent to sign up.

Throughout the summer and for the entire first semester of this academic year, Little A and about half a dozen of his schoolmates learnt the tenets of the Catholic faith that were needed to attain the next two major Sacraments (after Baptism).

After two lesson days spent at the church preparing for the big event, and plenty of on-the-side training in what I knew would be Little A's biggest challenge - the actual consumption of the Host - it was First Communion Day.

Little A donned his formal wear with minimal fuss, and we were off to the church.

Both sets of grandparents were in proud attendance, and an hour or so later, Little A was a bona fide First Communicant. We couldn't have been prouder, and in his own way, I am sure he too felt the sense of accomplishment.

Since then, he has wanted to go to church (and attend Mass) daily. I take him as often as we are able, and we definitely go on Sundays. While there are always challenges, spending that little bit of time in quiet contemplation, regardless of what one might believe, always makes things seem much less insurmountable. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Hawaiian Halloween

Because it seems he cannot resist an airline seat sale, Big A booked another trip for us - to visit his brother in Hawaii.

Since they do not yet have visas, nor do we feel he can manage a 10 hour flight and massive time difference, Little A and the Au Pair are spending the time we are away at my parents' place. Halloween is big in their area, and Little A has enjoyed trick or treating the past two years.

Hawaii seems to have become the Halloween capital of the USA, if not the world, and we were properly warned, so we came prepared. Apart from our costumes, my main goal was to acquire a suntan, which was achieved over the course of the week, with much careful application of skin protection and tan enhancing products.

An unexpected and wonderful surprise was that one of my all-time favourite musicians, Sting, would be playing a one-night concert at the Oahu Arena. We got tickets online, and one more item has been ticked off my bucket list, making my 40th year all the more memorable.

We have, again, traveled much this year. While next year only has two trips on the cards, we are truly grateful for these opportunities to experience these amazing places.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Dog Days

My son is very particular about the dogs he chooses to befriend. I am glad for this, as it keeps us from worrying that he will just approach a possibly aggressive animal.

His breeds of choice are labradors and golden retrievers, which happen to be the most child-friendly types, and my favourites as well. I dream of one day getting him a service dog, but that will be a long time coming yet, as we need a house and the enlarged shoebox we currently live in.

Since Big A is allergic, Little A's only interactions with canines are the neighbours' pets and the occasional work dog. My sister and her family have golden retrievers, but in all his years of existence, Little A has never been to their house to play with them.

Then last Sunday, at birthday lunch for my mum, my sister's family turned up with two of their three dogs.

The adults sat at the table while the cousins alternated between eating and spending time outside with the pooches. Other children came up as well, and played with the very friendly animals.

Little A hopes for more dog visits, so this upcoming half-term I have asked my nephew and niece to bring the dogs over again, when Little A spends time at his grandparents'.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Conducting the Orchestra

Little A has always loved classical music. Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Haydn and Vivaldi are names he knows well, as he has been hearing their work since he was in the womb. He might not be able to spell Tchaikovsky, but he certainly knows most of the music from Swan Lake and the Nutcracker Suite.

Several years ago, my sister gave him a violin that my nieces had outgrown. It was something he adored, along with the other toy instruments in his music box, and still does. However, it was only recently that he started rereading a long time favourite storybook, and this time he learnt all the parts of the orchestra.

Each time Big A and I have travelled this year, we have been asked to bring back specific instruments from the brass or woodwind sections. Since Little A is not yet having proper lessons and real instruments are huge, heavy and expensive, he makes do with toy versions.

In the last few weeks, he has discovered the joy of conducting "concerts". In the evenings, he arranges the chairs, assigns us instruments, and plays excerpts on his iPad. We "play" along, and bow at the end to applause.

We are pleased with this initiated social interaction, and look forward to building it into proper music lessons, more interaction with peers, and increased opportunities for communication. Music is the food of love, indeed. Play on! 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Singapore Swing

It's been a good three years since Little A was last on a plane. At age 5, he absolutely couldn't bear clapping, and two consecutive trips made that summer were a real challenge as he was always on high alert and would melt down at the slightest provocation.

We made a lot of road trips with him in the years in between, and he took it upon himself to desensitize himself to applause, so much that these days his favorite activity is "conducting" pretend concerts with lots of clapping and cheering at the end.

Since Big A and I have been on so many overseas trips these past two years, I asked if we could please take Little A somewhere. He agreed to a Singapore trip with much trepidation, and on the condition that the Au Pair came along.

We booked an apartment in the city for three nights, bought seats on the flagship carrier that has long been known in the expat circles to have the most accommodating crews for special needs children,  girded our loins, and packed our bags.

I had confidence in our son, but was naturally apprehensive, and enlisted the help of his teachers and therapists to prepare him for the trip. I saved his favourite YouTube videos for offline viewing, prepared pre-cut paper and markers for in-flight desktop activities, and had his snacks, books, and toys on hand.

D Day came, and Little A exceeded all our expectations at every turn. He got through the airport and tolerated the plane ride, despite being extremely anxious, without a single tantrum or tear, and when we entered the flat that was to be home for three nights settled down instantly and never wanted to leave.

Our activities were things we knew he would enjoy, and one big question mark on the last day, when we were to meet up with his godmother and uncle, Big A's sister and brother in law, who lived in Singapore.

The Night Safari, Singapore Zoo, and River Safari were like dreams come true for him as he saw and fed his favourite animals. Then came Challenge Day - Universal Studios.

Neither Big A nor I has ever been fond of theme parks, and as children we were never taken to any. But we figured it might be something to try, to see how Little A would react. We were fully prepared to buy tickets and get a refund, or to spend a few minutes and then leave.

Little A, once again, surprised us. He entered the noisy, sensory overloading main gate, and typed on his iPad, "wait brave". We sat on a bench by the turnstiles to wait for him to gather the courage to move into the main park. No tears, no tantrums.

After about 15 minutes, and two quick recon walks by myself and the Au Pair to "check" for possible scary things, Little A shielded his eyes, kept on his earphones, and walked down the main street.

Slowly, we made our way through the park, always at his side, reassuring him that nothing would happen unless he wanted it to.

By the time we got to the more child-friendly zones, he had relaxed enough to sit down with a book while Big A and the Au Pair went on a ride. We had lunch, then Big A and I went on a scary roller coaster while Little A and the Au Pair sat in the shade to wait for us. We sat in a cafe and he watched the Sesame Street puppet show through the window, and then we headed for his favourite toy store as a treat.

So, challenge day was a complete success. The flight home was uneventful, and the days since have been spent looking at the photos, finding videos of the Zoo, and looking forward to the next time we visit.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Building Blocks


One main challenge for individuals with autism is expressing creativity. They are known to be amazing mimics, and clever teachers and parents can use this as a stepping stone towards individual expression.

Unlike other boys his age, Little A was never particularly interested in Lego. He liked the ready-made Playmobil sets, where you just had to assemble the land and add the characters. Creating his own creatures, worlds or objects, not so much.

But recently, at his favourite toy store, he has been sitting at the Lego table, first recreating 2D images, and occasionally asking for help in adding more elements. I was tasked with building a moon and stars out of four sided bricks, and I am not sure I entirely succeeded, but my son was happy enough with my block figures.

He is now also past the stage of putting things in his mouth, hallelujah! So the next items on his wish list will be his own sets of bricks and a base mat. I look forward to seeing the worlds he will create.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Down Under

Sometime during our tenth wedding anniversary European trip last April, Big A claimed that would be "the last of our long haul travels for at least another year." But then the airline seat sales happened.

With so many Asian cities to discover and revisit, and so many local destinations we have yet to explore, I was simply thankful for the last two years' abundance of travel opportunities, and secretly glad to be done with the interminable paperwork required for the securing of visas. Our passports are well stamped, and our travel photo album covers three continents.

However, one day not long after our arrival from Europe Big A rang me at work. "G'day, mate! We're going to Australia!"

Apparently one of the local carriers has started flying direct to Sydney, and introductory ticket prices were cheaper than a flight to our beach islands. So last week, we went down under.

Three nights in Sydney and three in Melbourne in their wintertime gave us a good taste of both cities. Big A has definitely thrown his hat into the Melbourne camp, but I am still on the fence. Perhaps a few years from now, another trip to this southern continent (hopefully with Little A in tow!) will help make up my mind.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Last Friday, when I picked him up from school, Little A took my e-reader and typed "Look at the me. I superman". I read it to him and he was pleased as punch, and repeated the same words on different devices over the weekend.

Come Monday, after school, the same thing. I have not been able to get a chance to ask his teacher what this sentence is all about, but on our walls he has been writing "awesome", "good job", and tonight after brushing his teeth, "very proud". Always with a big smile when I read out the words.

He has started Grade 3, and sits right by the teacher in a class with 5 other boys and girls. These days I am discouraged from peeking into the classroom window and distracting him, but finally there is a parent-teacher communication notebook, so from time to time (twice so far in the first few weeks of school) I get a note on what they have been doing, or how his behavior has been.

This year, apart from their regular academic subjects, the students have sessions in the computer lab, where Little A has wowed the teacher with his prowess at typing and manipulating the mouse. They also have drama classes once a week, and a number of new extracurriculars are being offered.

I hope this year is a good one for Little A, socially, behaviourally, communicatively, and academically. Is that too much to hope for? We'll see.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Summer Fun

With a Singapore trip scheduled this coming September, Little A's short summer break was spent near home. We visited and revisited his favourite indoor play areas, mainly because outdoor fun was limited due to the rainy season coming in early.

His cousin and he managed a couple of playdates. If only they didn't live so far away, it would be wonderful to have these more regularly. 

My main wish for Little A this year is that he makes a friend or two whom we can have over to play. Of course in order to achieve this goal, he needs to keep making the strides which he is constantly working towards, improving all his skills. 

It's truly an endless struggle, one only fellow autism parents can identify with, but we are thankful for increasing awareness, empathy, and the kindness of strangers that surprise us often. In a world where so much seems to be going wrong, there are always, always little silver linings.

Friday, July 8, 2016

In the Ninth Year

Another birthday has come and gone, Little A's FOURTH one celebrated at school. His birthday also marks the school's anniversary, so we always make sure to mark the date with food and cake.

He decided on a Magic Show theme a few months ago, so I asked my crafty book club friend to make him a hat and cape. She enlisted the help of her sister, who has mad skills with a sewing machine, for the latter, and the result was absolutely amazing.

Picked up a day before his birthday, Little A proudly wore his Magician outfit to the supermarket, where we bought paper plates, biodegradable disposable cutlery, napkins, and drinking cups.

After much thought, and given the limited time for celebration at school, we didn't hire an actual magician but gave away a bag of things that kids could use to perform their own tricks. There was cupcake blowing, and picture taking, and wearing of silly things like fake moustaches and bunny ears. Then the kids got back to work.

That evening, we celebrated with the family at a newly opened restaurant near our apartment. Little A enjoyed this too, more than I expected he would! He sat down for the most part, drawing, ate his snack (we packed him a meal, as always), had a brief wander around the new shopping mall where the restaurant was located, and then came back to blow out his candles. 

Nine will certainly bring more challenges, as these are never-ending for any parent, but more difficult for special needs ones. Still, we keep going, and are grateful for what we have. A jagged graph, up and down, to quote from Sophie Kinsella's remarkably sensible young adult novel. As long as the line moves ever upwards, no matter how slowly, there is reason to be thankful.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Alphabetical Order

Midyear is upon us, and in a few weeks Little A enters the third grade. His curriculum will certainly be modified, but with continued hard work by both student and teachers, hopefully he will not lag too far behind his typical peers. Apart from academic progress, he needs improvements in behaviour and social interaction.

We recently received the results of a most thorough assessment of his current capabilities and weaknesses. The written report was packed with technical jargon and testing statistics, with the end result telling us what we more or less already knew, but was still a blow to see on paper.

Little A is in the moderate part of the autism spectrum, nonverbal but able to communicate through gestures, writing, and typing. He is also intellectually impaired, and possibly has ADHD in addition to sensory integration dysfunction.

I'd like to think news like that, presented in the form of a text-dense, half-inch thick evaluation report in small font would floor any parent, but then perhaps I am less strong than the average special needs mum.

No matter the results, we must soldier on. Thankfully we have found the perfect school for Little A, and despite all the setbacks there are improvements, slowly but surely.

Just this afternoon, on finishing a most inspiring book which might still be the only autism resource title written by a Filipino for fellow autism parents, I checked on Little A, who was playing quietly in his room.

To my surprise, I found that he had unearthed an old set of word cards, and arranged a number of them in alphabetical order, writing in the letters that were not represented on the floor in between the carefully laid out cards.

A day or so later, at the toy store, he lined up a row of animals. I asked if he didn't want to group them by type as he usually does (jungle, savannah, farm, ocean), but he shook his head firmly.

As ever, I took a photo. It was only on closer inspection much later that I saw the animals, too, were lined up alphabetically.

He has been attending summer school for three hours a day over the past two weeks, but I only enrolled him in Catechism and Filipino Language lessons, as well as his regular Speech and Occupational Therapy. Still, in between classes or when I take him to school early, he joins the pre-Grade 3 class. This must be where he learned to alphabetize, albeit indirectly. Upon asking the teachers, none of them claim to have worked on this skill with my son, so perhaps he's also just taken it upon himself. I can never tell what goes on in my child's mind, but I do know there is a lot happening in there. Maybe one day he will be able to articulate it in a way we can all understand.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hats Off to Second Grade

It's hard to believe that Little A has now finished the second grade. Rainy season has come to the Philippines, and so has the "summer" holidays for Little A and schoolmates.

There are two weeks of freedom, then a month of optional summer school, followed by two more free weeks, and the academic year starts properly on 1 August.

We wasted no time, and made the most of the fortnight immediately following the end-of-term show by going off to the mountains for five days, then filling up Little A's next week with non-technological activities. 

I had to work most days, but managed to squeeze in a few trips with Little A to the nearby children's centres, while the Au Pair took him to a learning library while I was manning the shop.

In less than a month comes another major event - Little A's 9th birthday. He alternates between wanting a magic show and a party at a play centre, so a decision must be made quite soon.

In the meantime, he goes to school on half days, while getting acquainted with a new set of teachers to prepare him for Grade 3. Onward, ho!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Discovering Dessert

Tonight, for the first time in his life at nearly nine years of age, Little A asked if he could have some ice cream.

Over the past two months or so, Big A has been encouraging him to take licks of his nightly popsicles, and amazingly, Little A seems to like this strawberry flavoured Korean ice cream.

This evening, when I told him it was time to brush his teeth, he walked up to his dad and verbalized the "Ah" sound, while scribbling letters on the couch.

I asked him to write them down properly and lo and behold, the boy wanted a popsicle. He sat in a chair by the window and licked away until he'd had enough for the night. We returned the rest of the bar to the freezer for next time.

It will be interesting to see where this interest might lead. At the moment, chocolate still disgusts him, so much that when he sees me eating it he walks up, wipes my mouth very carefully and throughly with a paper napkin, then smells my lips before agreeing to kiss me. I love chocolate, and Big A only eats "white" desserts, so we will see which side of the tree our apple will fall. My bet is on dad's end.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Every Day is Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day again, and while I am grateful every day for my gift of Little A, our family life is not without its challenges.

Just last week, due to a onset of increased behavioural issues (hitting teachers, and occasionally classmates), Little A has been removed from his regular integrated classroom and placed in an IEP room by himself (with a teacher, of course). 

The findings so far are that the lack of other distractions has given Little A better focus on his work, longer consistent working times, and a gradual decrease in behavioural issues due to the absence of previous triggers.

He had just completed a complete psychoeducational assessment in April, and while we haven't yet received the detailed written report, we did have a team discussion, and the issues that arose were his sometimes aggressive behaviour, and the possibility that he might also have ADHD. 

His doctor hopes that the school's 6 month behaviour plan results in enough of an improvement that we can rule out the use of medication for now. Doctor is hesitant to medicate mainly because Little A is underweight, despite the enormous quantities of food he consumes daily. I am apprehensive becuase what parent wants their child medicated for the rest of his life? 

He has many schoolmates and therapy classmates who are on medication and have noted significant improvements in behaviour, focus, etc. But I still hold out for self regulated behavioural management, at least until science convinces us that there really is a chemical cocktail that will significantly improve his quality of life. 

And so the struggle continues. No family is without challenges, I am well aware, but for those who are faced with bigger obstacles, there are also more fulfilling rewards. We certainly see these with every small achievement. And so we soldier on.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Artist at Work

In the last six or so months, Little A has been drawing and writing a lot. This is a major thing for a child with delayed fine motor skills and motor planning issues. For years, his pencils, crayons, markers, and other drawing and colouring implements (apart from paints) lay unused in a couple of drawers.

Then came the day he came across two boys on YouTube who had drawn and illustrated their own basic picture books. After watching the videos hundreds of times, I encouraged him to make his own "books," and showed him he had all the tools needed to do that.

Since then, we have stopped visiting toy stores and started frequenting stationery shops. Instead of an iDevice at the table, Little A now wields paper and coloured pens. Suddenly he could stay seated in restaurants for the length of time it took us (and not just him) to eat a meal.

More than that, his fine motor skills have come along, as well as his creativity. I do hope this art hobby continues and develops into a lifelong one. Who knows, one day Big A and I may find that we have raised the next Van Gogh?!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

European Tour - An Amazing Race

Thanks to a booming local economy and a lot of hard work on Big A's part, we have done quite well these last eighteen months. From living hand to mouth in the leanest years, we now have savings set aside in a trust for Little A, and have been able to do a little extra spending of our own.

As a result of frequent airfare sales and travel websites offering great deals, we've managed to do a fair bit of travel in the last year and a half, and feel this is the best way to enjoy that precious free time and hard-earned money.

This year marks our tenth wedding anniversary, my 40th birthday and Big A's 45th, so we decided to celebrate with a tour of Europe.

Big A did all the planning; I just sat back and enjoyed the ride for all but the last two days. He arranged for us to see eight cities in fourteen days, and plotted out detailed itineraries for each. We packed our bags and entrusted Little A into the care of the Au Pair, both sets of grandparents, and his teachers, and off we flew.

First week was Italy: Rome, Florence and Venice. Then Barcelona and Lisbon, Amsterdam and London. I had hoped to spend more time in Barcelona, but did get a feel of the city in the two days we were there.

It all went flawlessly until the very last day, when our flight home was delayed by two hours, but even that was quickly resolved by the airline.

The weather went from pleasantly sunny to quite cold and rainy, and I came home with a cold, but we had seen a significant portion of one part of the world, and feel much richer for having done so. Next up, in August, is Australia!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Going to the Dentist

The search for the perfect paediatric dentist is about as challenging as finding the holy grail of hairdressers. I have yet to enounter the stylist who can turn my locks from drab to fab convincingly enough for me to follow him or her to the ends of the earth. Because I would, if I found that person.

Anyway, back to Little A's teeth. When he was a newly diagnosed toddler, we tried a dentist who claimed to specialise in special needs patients. After the initial examination, he handed me a sheaf of papers and asked me to have our paediatrician sign them to confirm that it was okay for Little A to be sedated every time he needed his teeth cleaned or a filling done.

I took the papers and put them in a drawer, and never returned to that dentist as I refuse to accept that the only way to clean the teeth of a special needs child is to put them under general anaesthesia. 

A few years later, Little A discovered a fantastic dollhouse at what turned out to be a dental clinic next to the centre where he had therapy thrice a week. This dentist said her strategy would be to get him used to sitting in the chair and opening his mouth for a dental exam by practicing a few minutes at a time until he could sit through an entire procedure. 

I liked both this strategy and the dentist, only the therapy centre moved locations soon afterwards and we have not been back since.

Fast forward another few years, and Little A's permanent teeth are coming in. A children's dental clinic had opened down the road from one of my shops, and I heard good things from several parents, so we decided to try it. For months now, he has been doing an oral therapy involving a vibrating brush similar to an electric toothbrush, so I figured he was ready for a proper dental cleaning.

At the clinic, we met the Ninja Dentist. She showed Little A all the tools and let him touch them, as well as introducing a restraining device some kids use, that works for him as he feels better being "squashed" with tight hugs and between heavy duvets. 

Her hands were light and lightning fast as she scraped, brushed and painted fluoride on Little A's teeth in less than 15 minutes, and he cried but did not resist.

Since he is a new dental patient and his teeth have a tendency to discolour, we need to come back quarterly for fluoride treatments. I don't mind this as more frequent visits will get Little A used to the procedure more quickly, and hopefully within a year it will be as routine as getting a haircut and cutting his nails, both of which started with screaming, resistance, and required multiple people restraining him, but are now tolerated with minimal fuss. 

Since then, I have visited the Ninja Dentist myself, as they also work on adult teeth. She is a gem, and we plan to stick with her for as long as we have teeth.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Back to Ballet

In the two decades since quitting professional ballet, I have not done any "proper" exercise regimen. 2003 saw me qualify as a New York Ballet Workout instructor, but teaching had to stop which Little A was conceived, as cervical polyps made exercise while pregnant an impossibility.

Since Little A's birth I have wanted to get back to dance for exercise, and over the past year have managed about two dozen classes over the course of a few months, thanks to a newly opened Senior Centre conveniently located near Little A's school.

Recently though, I was made aware of adult ballet classes offered at a studio very near our apartment, taught by none other than one of my former dance partners. A new year, and a newly straightened spine meant I had no more excuses but to begin classes. And so I did.

Available from Level 0 (no experience) through 2 (intermediate adult), I found the classes to be just what I needed at this point in my life. Scheduled ideally in the mid-morning, I begun at the bottom, aiming to work my way up.

For two months now, I have faithfully attended two or three classes a week, and have seen, and felt, myself slowly getting back into shape. I may never perform Sleeping Beauty or do a 180 degree arabesque penchee again, but moving across a floor to classical music and feeling my body respond in a way it once did with ease is empowering, and apparently inspiring to my classmates who have never danced before but are finding it enjoyable at this stage in their lives.

I look forward to my dance classes and still have a ways to go before I consider myself back in full shape. It is a discipline my body knows, and once it is learned it can never really be erased from one's life. Dance on, then! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Field Trip

In the nearly three years that Little A's school has been operational, the students have not gone on a field trip, despite my numerous suggestions over the years (science museum, petting zoo, children's museum, aquarium). Until last week.

Finally, after what must have been much begging by the students as well as some parents, the teachers organised a day at Kidzania. Little A had not yet been, despite its location just a few streets away from our apartment building. Opened sometime last year, it has been a huge hit among the middle class youth of Manila, as it seems to be in every city which is lucky to have one.

While the other classes decided that their pupils would experience everything together, as a group, Little A's teachers let the kids in his class pick and choose their own activities.

Set loose, Little A first headed for the theatre at the centre of the "town". When he had explored it thoroughly, I suggested we find an activity. We walked around and on the second level he found the perfect first "job," at a greengrocer's. This was followed by a stint as a pretend rock star, a veterinarian to stuffed animals, and a gardener. Lunch was with the rest of the group, then we waited until the afternoon highlight, his firefighter workshop.

In spite of the number of children at the venue and the minimal supervision he required (special needs kids were allowed an adult in the activity room with them while typical ones were made to do everything on their own), I felt Little A did very well overall, and liked that the facilitators at each activity, particularly the greengrocer's, were quick to adapt the "lessons" to his non-verbal condition so that he never felt left out.

While there were numerous other activities still left untried, there will be many more times to visit Kidzania again, and I look forward to seeing Little A adapt more and more each time.